There are four Jeeps to be reviewed here, and two are brand new models for 2014. First was the Wrangler with MOAB package. Along with the wild, lime green paint seen here, this option includes bigger tires, large blacked-out wheels, heavy-duty bumpers (winch-ready), and various cosmetic goodies. It looks nice, but the $5,200 fee was a shocker. So was the total vehicle tab at $37,650. This price included more options like 5-speed automatic gearbox, locking rear axle (mandatory for serious off-roading), and upgraded sound system.
The lime green paint (called gecko pearl) reflected the sun, which helped keep the interior cool on a hot 114-degree day. Too bad the black soft top attracted about as much heat, defeating the advantage here. A hard top with matching paint would be a better choice, but will add about $1,700 to the sticker.
Gas mileage of the standard V-6 engine is rated at 17-21 mpg, which is what I got. The power available is more than enough, and far better than that lousy, older inline-six that was discontinued a decade ago. This is a nice looking rig, and Jeep should sell more than enough to the rich people who can afford it.
Next was a more practical Wrangler, the four-door Unlimited version. It holds far more gear, of course, and wasn't loaded down with eye candy, so was less expensive at $34,000 and well equipped. The extra weight of the heavier body causes a slight performance loss in fuel economy and acceleration, but not enough to worry about. With a longer wheelbase, U-turns are not as tight, but once again nothing serious. With the ability to seat four passengers, and still pack gear, this has become a very popular model for Jeep dealers.
2014 GRAND CHEROKEE
The 2014 Grand Cherokee is here, and it's a good one. The new cabin design is well done, with better materials, improved workmanship, and superior controls. It is nice to see a vehicle with simple knobs, which are far easier to manipulate, especially with gloves on.
Under the hood, that big Hemi V-8 is still offered, rated at 14-20 mpg. Great choice if towing is being done. This one had the 3.6 liter V-6 putting out about 300 horsepower, and rated at 17-25 mpg. This one averaged 21 overall, and that included plenty of off-road dirt busting. Loaded up with 4-wheel drive and a big V-8, these can reach the $45K mark. This was 2-wheel drive with the smaller engine, but was still well equipped at only $30K.
With Jeep discounting, figure less. A real nice vehicle at a reasonable price.
With a base price about $16,000, the Patriot is a less expensive alternative to these others. At that price you have to pay extra for air conditioning, and when loaded up, these can hit $27K! Options must be chosen with care. Base engine is a 2.0 liter at 158 hp; this one had the bigger 172 hp 2.4 liter. Base tranny is a 5-speed manual; this one had the CVT automatic. All-wheel drive is optional; this one was 2WD. One option that should be considered mandatory is the off-road pack. It includes skid plate, tow hooks, and lower gearing at only $550. Great deal!
The interior is bland, but all controls are simple to use, with plenty of old-fashioned knobs. Thank you. The steering feel, ride comfort, and brake performance are very good for a low- priced vehicle. Gas mileage was 22 in city, and 25 highway, not that great compared to the competition. But the price is right!